An update on the Laptop Shrimping project. We now have a URL at http://shrimping.it
and Twitter @ShrimpingIt
The #Shrimp design is fairly stable now thanks to many contributions from people who know stuff.
I've personally distributed about 30 kits of parts. Some are taken with a breadboard, some with USB-UART adaptor, and some taken by hobbyists to put onto stripboard at home. However, the most exciting direction is feeding in to the National Curriculum and STEM subjects here in the UK.
Thanks to @teknoteacher for making me realise something like the #Shrimp was needed at Hackademy "Inside the Machine" http://teachcomputing.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/hackademy-live-blog/
Thanks to @oomlout for early discussions and support and thanks to @tshannon for hosting and supporting Shrimp makers at Howduino. Thanks to @jonachamberlain @patlink72 @iMartyn and his Mum for testing out the first boards and working with me to think of decent expansion kits. Thanks to Mike Cook for all his experimentation with a clone of the MB Games 'Simon'. Thanks to @monsonite and @simonmonk2 for suggestions. Thanks to many many others including those in this thread. Sorry if you've helped I didn't credit you by name but I've had a huge amount of fun and engagement with loads of people.
There's a lot of excitement about being able to actually solder together your own Arduino-compatible. Thanks to Fignition, and @ManchesterBudo for helping me realise how important this is to people - it's now become central to the project.
Essentially, this is developing into a classroom pack which teachers should be able to progressively introduce to pupils, with a single lesson to build the circuit and program it on breadboard, another lesson to prototype established project designs from 'expander' kits (which include some extra sensors and actuators for a specific project), and a final lesson to solder onto stripboard and test on battery. At any point, it is feasible for individuals to take a direction towards their own personal project/invention/game/alarm/joke/toy what have you. We're just offering a kind of template for leading people through this.
All along the way, you're working directly with incredibly cheap components and using the same 'mental model' from the moment you start building your Arduino-compatible, right the way through to prototyping your own project circuitry - one advantage of not using the blue board, at least for education purposes. There's a huge crossover with Design and Technology subjects, and it's loads of fun designing, choosing and packaging glossy buttons, displays etc. even for those who don't want to change the circuit or the program.
Here in Morecambe the rough plan is to make the components for a Shrimp available for £3 at workshops, with a returnable deposit of £2 for the USB-UART adaptor (which you may not need when you've finished building your project), and a returnable deposit of £3 for the breadboard (which you can give up when you've finished prototyping and you've transferred to stripboard, or maybe you found a cheaper breadboard
Hopefully people will get involved enough that they want to keep both the CP2102 and the Breadboard for further projects, and we can keep giving them packs of £3 components for each new experiment they undertake, with the aim that they actually deploy their experiments, powered by battery or a USB power source (without UART), and don't deconstruct them again as people like me tend to do with Arduino because of owning a limited number of boards.
Anyway, it's been a bit whirlwind. The moment I get any parts, people seem to take them away, so I've bought another load of 100 lots from mouser/tayda/shcfstore (the cheapest places I've found to get the bits so far). The CP2102s could take a while to arrive, unfortunately, but I'll have all the other parts within a week.
We can help you get the parts at a reasonable rate, and with rapid shipping from UK but we are not claiming any ownership of the design, though it's nice to get credit and pingbacks.
If you're interested in following along, getting a kit of parts or contributing to the project, then get in touch @ShrimpingIt http://shrimping.it